Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, February 14, 2011

An Age of Faith or Miracles?

Like many of you, in Sunday School today we had a lesson on the miracles Christ performed during his ministry.

A comment made in class struck me - the sister asserted that we didn't live in an age of miracles as previous dispensations had, that we instead lived in an age of faith where we would simply have to believe and hope and would have no physical evidence like the people in Christ's time did.

I wholeheartedly disagreed with this statement, and for anyone that knows me, you will not be surprised that I raised my hand.

I said it was a matter of context and perspective. We are given specific miracles that occurred in the scriptures - both the former situation and what the miraculous outcome was. We know about people being healed from leprosy because someone is there to say, "I saw that this person was a leper and then I saw that Christ healed them."

But what about the stranger that passes that former leper in the street? Would they have even the faintest idea of the great miracle that had occurred in that person's life? To the stranger, the former leper would be just another person.

I said great miracles happen each and every day all over the world. I feel very much that three mighty miracles have happened in my life - gifts of healing and births that should not have been possible - a child with autism that speaks and reads above his grade level and loves - I wholeheartedly know, without a doubt, that miracles very much exist in this day and age.

Not liking my answer, the sister retorted that what we have now is nothing like what happened during Adam's time - where angels walked among them or in Moses' or Noah's eras. That we have to live by faith and not have angels to instruct us.

I wasn't trying to be contentious (just explain my own point of view) and thought that if I continued, it might get a little ugly. So I held my tongue.

But I wondered - how do you know angels don't walk among us? Just because you (or I) haven't met one, doesn't mean that it hasn't happened for anyone else. I've read modern day accounts of people who were protected or comforted by angels in horrible situations. I know of fantastic stories of healing from blessings that have mystified medical science. People who have died and come back to life. Miracles very much like the ones Christ performed while on the earth (seeing as how he gave his apostles the same power to heal the sick, it makes sense). You can't know the entire world's spiritual experiences just from your own limited perspective. The scriptures are giving us specific examples from individuals' lives, but we can't hope to access all the experiences of people everywhere in our own time period.

I reject the notion that we live only by faith alone. I've seen the hand of the Lord. I've seen miracles. I live with them.

If all things of the Gospel have been restored in our dispensation, then why would the Lord neglect us with the same experiences he gave to people in times past? Why wouldn't someone see an angel? Or be miraculously healed? Alma and the sons of Mosiah saw an angel. Did their fathers? Their friends? Not everyone is given the same experiences all the time. The Lord will give us what we need, not necessarily the miracle that we want (although I testify that sometimes He does that too!).

Anyway, what say you? Do we live in an age of faith alone, or do we too live in an age of miracles?


At 2/14/2011 1:33 AM, Blogger Stephanie Humphreys said...

I agree with you. We live in an age of miracles. I've seen enough in my own life and the lives of my friends and families to believe. We receive the miracles we need and sometimes it just takes the faith to recognize them as miracles.

At 2/14/2011 1:50 AM, Blogger Jordan McCollum said...

Over Christmas, I visited with a family in our ward that I don't know well and I found out about a true healing miracle that had happened in their family this year.

Your comments made me think of Mormon 9:15-16
15And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.

16 Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?

When I read that verse once, I realized it was speaking to me, not because I believe God cannot do miracles, but because I often think He will not do them for me/someone I know.

At 2/14/2011 1:52 AM, Blogger Jordan McCollum said...

So I agree with Stephanie (and the woman in your class) that we do have to walk by faith—but not in the absence of miracles.

Which reminds me of another favorite scripture: Lord, help thou mine unbelief!

At 2/14/2011 5:07 AM, Blogger Nathan said...

I love this topic, and am glad you raised your hand in the class. Please indulge my comment. There are such great examples all around us. Just the sacrament, and how the Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys to the ministering of angels, meaning it unlocks the door for us to recieve exactly what that sister claimed we no longer could. The Holy Ghost alone, a member of the Godhead, is a miraculous manifestation of that.

I'm glad you mentioned the scripture in Mormon, Jordan. That is a powerful one that seems written exactly for this topic. (And since I'm stuck on the idea of angels) Bruce C. Hafen wrote a great article in the April 2002 Ensign called "When Do the Angels Come?" And the headline is "The ministry of angels in the lives of ordinary, devoted people often goes unrecognized."

There it is. It's a great topic and I'm glad you shared it.

At 2/14/2011 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anna said...

Although I'm not sure if we have such HUGE miracles like immaculate conception and raising someone from the dead after they are already stinketh.... I do believe miracles still happen.

Maybe angels don't walk among us, maybe they do. Probably the same percentage of people that saw angels back then are the same percentage as now days. Not everyone is going to see an angel. I'm sure the prophets have seen quite a bit.

Miracles can be big or small. And I agree... it's hard to tell from our own perspective. Have I see an angel personally? No. Have I seen a miracle like back in Jesus day? No. But I've heard people that I know and and would not doubt them when they say that something was a miracle. Or that they know 'someone' was helping them.

At 2/14/2011 10:41 AM, Blogger ~T~ said...

Don't forget 2 Nephi 27:23. "For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world tht I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith."

Faith brings miracles; faith helps us recognize miracles. If someone can't see the miracles, I'd worry about their level of faith.

At 2/14/2011 11:38 AM, Blogger Debra Erfert said...

I've seen miracles happen, on more than a handful of occasions. So I know I don't just have to have faith that they once existed, if that's what the sister was asserting.

I felt my heart palpitate when I read this post. I know I never could have kept my hand from shooting upward, and I probably would have argued with the sister, at least a little bit before biting my lips. But that wouldn't have stopped the spirit from burning in my heart the sure knowledge of modern day miracles.

Good for you, Sariah, for holding up your hand and testifying of your belief. I hope it had some impact on your teacher.

At 2/14/2011 11:51 AM, Blogger Valerie Ipson said...

We had the same lesson yesterday and fortunately all in the class agreed that miracles still happen today--at least no one voiced a dissenting opinion.

I often wonder about all the unseen angels that are busy doing their work and we won't even realize till the end of our lives how many times we were saved.

Greater than even physical miracles are the spiritual miracles. Feeling the spirit to me is a miracle.

I walk by faith and I see miracles everyday.

At 2/14/2011 12:03 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Pretty much what Jordan said.

Just because big miracles aren't broadcast over general conference doesn't mean they don't happen. They're not a dime a dozen, sure. And we are told to not broadcast sacred experiences. So of course we hear about them all the time. Doesn't mean they don't happen.

According to Mormon, if we live in a day w/out miracles, we're messing something up and it's our own fault.

Saying that God has changed and doesn't do that anymore is the same argument people use to say that the First Vision couldn't have happened. Kinda defeats the entire Restoration.

This woman is the kind of person who will likely flip out if some big stuff happens in her lifetime. (Say, we get the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon--would she be able to accept that? I doubt it.)

At 2/14/2011 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this is an age of faith, then shouldn't we see lots of miracles?

The miracles of other ages were not a dime a dozen, either. Only one woman through ALL time could be the mother of Christ. And there were millions of women at the time of Christ who didn't experience that miracle. It wasn't well known. The birth took place in a manger.

And what do you mean, we don't walk among angels. I think you mean we don't walk in places where a conduit of light opens up and a mavelous being of light from another world descends and speaks to us. That's what you're talking about. You want a miraculous appearance of an unearthly being. But if angels are messengers from the council of heaven--from God--then we have a lot of messengers around us. Prophets. Apostles. Missionaries. And if we haven't the faith to follow their messages, what would even be the purpose for a ressurected, light-filled, being to descend through a conduit of light and stand in the air before us and proclaim the miracle of their appearance. I mean really, what would be the purpose?

God doesn't do MIRACLES to impress us. He's far too busy saving souls, bring people to Christ, bearing witness of the plan of salvation, and helping each of us find out what our purpose in life is so we can be complete, and whole and finished, to waste time on sending beings of light to us for show.

Miracles happen in the course of doing the workd of God. If you want to see a miracle, go talk to your friends about faith, repentence, baptism and the gift of the holy ghost. If you want to see a miracle, get doing the work of God. And miracles will follow you. They happen all the time. The veil is parted daily. We are surrounded by mortal and heavenly angels all the day long. We are protected, lifted up, guided, every day. Those are miracles.

There are two kinds of religion. There is the religion of the world that teaches men and women how to control their environment. Those are naturalistic religions. In the Old and New Testaments those religions usually led to magic. People so desperately wanted to control things around them. Compare that to the Gospel of Christ, where prophets teach men and women to control themselves, their thoughts, their actions, to repent and be more like Christ. The greatest miracles are the ones that take place in the soul, the heart. That's why miracles follow rather than preceed, those who believe. And it isn't a quid pro quo. If you believe then you can see some really cool miracles. The miracle IS the repentant soul. The refined soul. The soul that passes through the crucible and follows Christ. And in those cases, when you find true followers of Christ, visible, palpable, never-to-be-forgotten miracles will follow. And they won't be headlines in the paper or TV news. They will be cherished in the privacy of those who experience them.

At 2/14/2011 4:16 PM, Blogger Kelsi Rose said...

I suppose you will see miracles if you want to. Cynics can find a way to explain away what the faithful would call miracles. Belief is a miracle becuase there is no witness until after the trial of your faith, so if you have faith you better believe in miracles today.

I grew up with a miracle so I can't deny them.

At 2/15/2011 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your dissenting voice!

We tend to assume the scriptures tell about every minute of every day of the prophets, but they don't. At least I don't recall a chapter that says, "Monday, gathered berries, sewed a new tent, baby threw up on it, held family home evening--didn't go so well." We really just get the highlights, so it could seem like really big miracles happened every day. But they didn't then and aren't immediately evident every day now.

The biggest and greatest miracle is when someone is able to be clean again after intense repentance. That definitely happens far more often than stinking corpses rising from the dead. Faith does bring that miracle to us and aren't we all grateful?

At 2/15/2011 6:32 PM, Blogger Charlie Moore said...

It probably isn't necessary that we know everything about every prophet throughout history. What is important about the scriptures (i.e. Book of Mormon) is it contains a fullness of the Lord's gospel.
For anyone who may have questions about faith and miracles, I suggest reading a wonderful book by Pres. Spencer W. Kimball called Faith Precedes the Miracle (also The Miracle of Forgiveness.) The Lord tells us no miracle is received except it be predicated upon faith.

First principle is faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Nothing comes before it.



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